MRO Magazine

IEEE gives award to mechatronics expert

Piscataway, NJ -- The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) has named Thomas W. Nehl as th...


September 26, 2007
By MRO Magazine

Piscataway, NJ — The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) has named Thomas W. Nehl as the recipient of its 2007 Nikola Tesla Award, recognizing his pioneering contributions to the simulation and design of electromechanical devices and systems and their impact on the automotive industry. The IEEE is the worlds leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

Sponsored by The Grainger Foundation and the IEEE Power Engineering Society, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to generation and utilization of electric power. It will be presented to Nehl at the 2007 IEEE Industry Applications Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans on Sept. 26, 2007.

Nehl is group leader, advanced suspension electromechanical devices and systems at Delphi Chassis in Shelby Township, Mich. His novel approaches to the modelling of electronically operated drive and actuator systems have been used widely within GM and Delphi and have influenced the development of commercial software that is now used for this purpose throughout the automotive industry.

Over the past two decades he has developed pioneering methods for modelling the transient electrical, electromagnetic and mechanical behaviour of automotive electromechanical devices, including actuators having linear, pivoting or rotary motion. These models allow for detailed understanding of the complex electrical, mechanical and electromagnetic interactions within these devices that is crucial to achieving higher performance designs at a lower cost.


Nehls math-based tools have been used in the development of a wide range of automotive mechatronic devices and systems, including fuel injectors, control solenoids, controlled dampers, conventional and latching relays, rotary and linear actuators, accessory drives, electric power steering, traction drives for electric and hybrid vehicles and a variety of sensors.

In an industry that is extremely competitive and in which small improvements in performance, cost and speed to market have a large impact on product success; Nehls tools have provided critical rapid and accurate prediction of performance prior to prototyping.

These tools have impacted the development of a number of automotive products in production over the past 20 years, including pivoting armature injectors for General Motors trucks and sport utility vehicles, port fuel injectors for GM passenger vehicles, linear EGR valves for emission control, wheel speed sensors for ABS and stability control, crankshaft position sensors for engine control, low torque ripple PM drives for electric power steering (Delphi) and MR dampers for controlled suspensions (Delphi).

The importance and financial impact of this work was recognized in several internal GM Awards including two Charles McCuen Special Achievement Awards, an Extraordinary Accomplishment Award and a Presidents Council Honors Award.

An IEEE Fellow, Nehl is a recipient of the IEEE Power Engineering Society Award for Outstanding Technical Report in 1994 and the IEEE Industry Applications Society Prize Paper Award in 1996 (EMC – 3rd Prize). He earned his bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Additional information about the IEEE can be found at